San Antonio's Texas Vista Medical Center to close after 40 years

Photo of Madison Iszler
Texas Vista currently houses about 175 patients and includes 800 employees. Steward Health Care Systems owns the facility.

Texas Vista currently houses about 175 patients and includes 800 employees. Steward Health Care Systems owns the facility.

Josie Norris / San Antonio Express-News

Texas Vista Medical Center, a 327-bed hospital on the Southwest Side that has been serving patients of modest means for over 40 years, is closing.

Dallas-based Steward Health Care System, which owns Texas Vista, is closing the facility — one of two major hospitals in the southernmost third of the city — on May 1.

Steward, which took over the former Southwest General Hospital in 2017 and renamed it Texas Vista in 2021, said the facility at 7400 Barlite Blvd. serves “limited-income, high-needs” patients and has long struggled financially.

“The consequences of our closure will cause an immediate public health crisis for the city’s most vulnerable patients,” Jon Turton, president of Texas Vista, said Wednesday.

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Steward has asked University Health System and Bexar County to take control of Texas Vista but said its proposal has not been accepted.

“We are still hoping that the county or other entity will assume control of the hospital,” Turton said.

In statements issued late Wednesday, Bexar County and University Health System disputed Turton’s claims.

The county said its staff met with Turton and Texas Vista medical director Jason Miller last month to discuss the hospital’s financial state.

Turton was seeking a $5 million to $10 million bailout “to sustain Texas Vista, a for-profit, physician-led private company,” according to the county. He also offered assurances that the facility was not closing.

“He stated that the parent health system, Steward Health, was facing challenges and he had been instructed to limit his communications with local entities pending some resolution to these challenges,” the county said.

“Since this conversation took place, Steward Health has not attempted to communicate with Bexar County, and staff has not been asked to vet any formal proposal to assume control,” the county added.

County Judge Peter Sakai said the county is monitoring the situation to “make sure the health care needs of all of its patients are met with dignity and respect.”

He said he’s asked county-operated University Health System and other health care providers to help find beds for the 175 patients hospitalized at Texas Vista, as well as employment for the medical center’s 842 employees.

The Bexar County Hospital District, which does business as University Health System, is governed by a board appointed by county commissioners. The district is partially funded by property taxes.

Sakai also noted that Bexar County and University Health are working toward building a new hospital near Texas A&M University-San Antonio “to better serve the needs of South Side residents” and are “committed to investing in hospital facilities in underserved areas.” That hospital is slated to have 140 beds and could open as soon as 2027.

The only other full-service hospital serving the South Side is Mission Trail Baptist Hospital on the campus of Brooks, a 1,300-acre former Air Force base on the Southeast Side.

‘Not sustainable’

In its announcement, Steward said almost a quarter of Texas Vista’s patients cannot pay for services and that more than half are government-pay patients.

When it took over Texas Vista, the company said, the hospital was being “choked out by the well-heeled ‘public’ hospital competitor across town” and the COVID-19 pandemic further strained its finances.

“Steward was able and willing to assume financial losses and risks during that extraordinary public health crisis,” the company said. “It is not sustainable to do so any longer.”

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Steward warned that Texas Vista’s shutdown will leave people without access to services and burden other hospitals that are already struggling.

“It is part of (University Health’s) original charter to care for the indigent population of Bexar County. This service has largely fallen on TVMC’s shoulders over the past few years,” Steward said.

The company complained that while Texas Vista bore such burdens, University Health used its “vast resources” to build a half-billion-dollar, state-of-the-art hospital to serve wealthier patients in a more affluent area.

“If such a large public charity has the funds to build this new hospital — off of which it will make significant money from its operation — it can afford to assume control” of Texas Vista, Steward said.

But University Health said Steward and Texas Vista have not given it “any opportunity to ‘take over control’ of Texas Vista Medical Center under mutually acceptable terms that are in the best interests of the taxpayers of this community.”

University Health said its mission and values are not aligned with Medical Properties Trust, which owns the assets of Texas Vista and leases it to Steward.

The facility would also need major upgrades “to bring it up to University Health standards.”

“We are disappointed that these two for-profit companies made the decision to identify University Health and Bexar County as somehow being responsible for their inability to successfully operate Texas Vista, and to imply that local taxpayers should bail them out,” University Health said.

‘Loss for the South Side’

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia decried Texas Vista’s impending closure.

It is “a loss for the South Side and our city as a whole,” Nirenberg said. He said local hospital leaders, including University Health, have told the city they will meet to discuss it.

Over a quarter of District 4 residents are uninsured and more than 800 Texas Vista employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure, Rocha Garcia said.

“It is disheartening to hear about the closure of a local health care facility, and equally concerning is the devastating impact this will have on our residents living in southwest San Antonio,” Rocha Garcia said. “This closure will only exacerbate prevalent health disparities.”